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Excerpts from High Commissioner of India, HE Mr Kumaran Periasamy’s speech on Indian Budget 2021-22 on the 9th February 2021

Mr Kumaran delivered some key aspects of the Budget, from the standpoint of the High Commission, to the extent they relate to both country’s trade and investment promotion efforts. He spoke on issues such as bi-lateral trade and investment , Infrastructure, Foreign Investment and EODB, Healthcare.

He highlighted that the process of making this budget was a daunting one yet a historical one, as it was presented during the tough time – a pandemic on a rampage, a deepening economic and healthcare crisis, simultaneous demand and supply shocks, stagnation in credit flows, fiscal constraints and an uncertain global environment.

Mr Kumaran said that the Finance Minister’s budget vision has been built over six pillars, such as health and well-being; physical and financial capital and infrastructure; inclusive development for aspirational India; reinvigorating human capital; innovation and R&D; and minimum government and maximum governance.

Mr Kumaran said that there is a deep trade and investment links between India and Singapore and  Singapore is the largest investor in India, in terms of the cumulative investments made over the years, which today exceed USD 106 billion.

He said that, ‘The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and Singapore was signed in June 2005 and became operational from August 2005. It was the first comprehensive trade agreement India signed with any trade partner. It was also Singapore’s first comprehensive economic pact with a South Asian country. The CECA established a comprehensive framework to enhance trade in goods and services, promote investments, mutually recognize qualifications in key areas and facilitate movement of persons’.

He further said that, ‘Singapore is directly connected to 18 cities by 8 airlines. Before the start of the covid-19 pandemic, there were more than 500 weekly flights, both ways in total .In 2019,  about 1.42 million Indian tourists visited Singapore, making India the third largest source of tourism to Singapore’.

When talking about ‘Infrastructure’, he said that more economic corridors are being planned to augment road infrastructure. National Highway works are being earmarked for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Assam’.

On the Foreign Investment and EODB, he said that disinvestment is a strong move in this budget, that gives scope for global companies to invest in India.

‘According to the new approach, except for four strategic areas (atomic energy, space and defence; transport and telecommunications; power, petroleum, coal and other minerals; and banking, insurance and financial services), PSUs in all other sectors will be divested. The government has set an ambitious disinvestment target of about USD 23.3 billion. The government has allocated Rs. 20,000 crore for recapitalisation of Public Sector banks.’ Bold steps such as raising the FDI limit in the insurance sector from 49% to 74% and allowing foreign ownership and control with safeguards would open up the sector in a major way to international players.’

He concluded his remarks by telling that, ‘ The expectation from the budget is that these bold initiatives would help in reenergizing the economy and return it to a high growth trajectory. Indian industry has strongly welcomed it for its focus on investments, infrastructure, ease of doing business, and stability and predictability. There is a fairly wide consensus that the many bold measures introduced will help revive growth by catalyzing demand and investments’.

Photo and Information:  Indian High Commission

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